Afghanistan Stamps are postage stampsissued by the country of Afghanistan.
The postal system in Afghanistan did not get established until 1871. Prior to this letters could only be deliberated by private messengers or via government/state appointed couriers. Sher Ali Khan who ran as Amir from 1863-1866 is credited with being the man responsible for the modernisation of postal services – the early issue stamps were black and round with a lion's head logo (often also referred to as a tiger).
They appeared in three different denominations and were considered cancelled when cut or torn - they are the only country to have employed this method of cancellation and collectors first mistakenly considered such stamps damaged rather than used. Different coloured stamps first appeared in 1876 and the first rectangular stamps appeared in 1891. In 1928 Afghanistan became part of the Universal Postal Union and stamps were produced bearing the words 'Afghan Postage' – first in Roman and then in French.
The 1950s saw an increase in the amount of stamps being produced with many being made at below minimal postage costs. This showed an awareness of the growing interest in philately and from the mid-1980s onwards many stamps were thought to be made with stamp collectors from the Western world in mind.
From 1989 to 2001, during the overthrow of the Taliban no new Afghanistan stamps were issued at all although there were many fake stamps in circulation. A new series of stamps were issued in 2002 depicting military general Ahmad Shah Masoud.
Information for Collectors
Stamps issued after 1891 (when the rectangular stamp first came into print) are generally considered to be affordable with only a small percentage selling for tens of dollars. Pre-1891 round stamps are much more expensive with some retailing for more than $200. The regular issue stamp thought to retail highest is an 1872 1-rupee kabuli stamp featuring a lion's head. In used condition it's catalogue value is $1100.
Stamps from Afghanistan can be purchased at popular auction sites such as eBay. They can also be bought via specialised stamp dealers including:
- Herrick Stamp Company -America's leading stamp dealers, founded in 1946; currently selling a wide range of Afghanistan stamps all for under the $5 mark.
- All World Stamps – has stock from 1893 to 1989. Prices in GBP.
- Jim Forte Postal History Range of covers for sale – prices start at $10.
Notable Auction Sales
H.R. Harmer, Inc Sale – US and Worldwide Postal History and Collection Public Sale – October 27th-29th 2011. An album collection consisting of over 100 lion heads in various denominations and also including cancellations and postmarks. Sold for $13,000. A smaller album collection containing some of the tiger heads up to the 1960s sold for $800.
Spink Shreves September 2008 Collector's Series sale. The set comprised of over 100 lion heads and some of the more elusive 20th century stamps. It exceed it's estimate of $750 to $1000 by realising $3,250.
Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries Sale – October 2010. An 1875 (dated '1292') black lion's head sold for $200. In an earlier sale held in December 2007 a collection containing single stamps, collections, souvenir sheets and covers sold for $2,000.
Cherrystone Philatelic Auctioneers October 2011 – A 1961 Imperforate souvenir sheet sold for $260. Some postal stationary from 1909 realised $1,000.